Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)

Did Marriage/Kids Affect Your Exercise/Eating Habits?

Posted by on Apr. 13, 2011 at 3:19 AM
  • 3 Replies
The Associated Press
updated 4/11/2011 8:20:41 AM ET 2011-04-11T12:20:41

Could kids be to blame for new parents' bad health habits?

A study found that mothers of young children were heavier and ate more calories, sugary drinks and fatty foods than childless women. Dads and moms in the study were less active than their peers without kids.

Sheri Lee Schearer, 34, says the results reflect her life with a 5-month-old son. Before, when she worked as a paralegal, she had time to make a spinach salad or go out for one. Now, as a stay-at-home mom in southern New Jersey, she grabs whatever is easiest and quickest.

"I often find that his needs come before mine," she said. "Do I get to the gym? No. Do I eat always healthy? No."

Quick, easily prepared foods are often high in fat and calories. Parents who choose these foods may end up serving them to their children, perpetuating a cycle of unhealthy eating, the study authors said.

"This isn't a study about blame," said co-author Jerica Berge, a University of Minnesota researcher. "This is about identifying ... a very high-risk time period" for parents that doctors should be aware of so they can offer solutions, she said.

That may include diet advice, parent-child exercise classes, or just getting parents to take walks with their kids, the researchers said.

The study involved 1,520 adults aged 25 on average, including parents with children younger than 5 years old. They were among more than 4,000 Minneapolis-area public school students enrolled in a study in their teens; the new study includes those who responded to two follow-up health surveys and answered questions about their diet and activity.

Results are published online Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

Slightly higher average BMI
Mothers ate more fatty foods and drank about seven sugary drinks weekly, versus about four among childless women. Moms also had an average of 2,360 calories daily, 368 calories more than women without children. With that many calories, women that age would need to be active to avoid gaining weight, walking more than 3 miles daily at a moderate pace.

But mothers got on average a little more than two hours of at least moderate activity weekly, versus three hours weekly among childless women. Mothers had a slightly higher average body-mass index than childless women — 27 versus 26. Healthy BMIs are in the 19-24 range.

Fathers ate about the same amount of daily calories as childless men and both had an average BMI of about 25, but fathers got less physical activity — about five hours weekly, compared to almost seven hours among childless men.

Among study participants, more of the parents were black and had low incomes than the childless adults, but the researchers took race, income and other factors into account that might have affected diet or activity levels.

The study has several limitations; there's no data on how many women recently had babies, whose weight would still reflect pregnancy pounds. There's also no information on the number of single parents, who likely face even more diet and exercise challenges than married parents.

Sarah Krieger, an American Dietetic Association spokeswoman and St. Petersburg, Fla. dietitian who works with new mothers, said some of the mothers may have had postpartum depression, which might affect their eating and exercise habits.

Schearer, the New Jersey mom, said she's lost half the 40 pounds she gained while pregnant and doesn't care if she never loses that last 20 pounds.

Becoming a mom "has been the best thing that ever happened to me," she said.

P.S. other studies have also shown that bmi's tend to go up in married couples over singles


1. Did getting married affect your eating/exercise habits? For better or worse?

2. Did having kids affect your eating/exercise habits? For better or worse?


by on Apr. 13, 2011 at 3:19 AM
Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Replies (1-3):
by on Apr. 13, 2011 at 3:26 AM
1. no my job does. im trying to stay away from the fried food. im gonna have to just chew gum and munch on banana chips or something when the fried foods near by.
2. yes its so hard to actually exercise w him around. thw most i can do is walk w him in the stroller. he has to hang all over me if i try anything else.
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
by on Apr. 13, 2011 at 3:55 AM

1. Kids- I ate unhealthy as a teen/young adult but had a super high metabolism so could eat whatever and as much as I wanted and still be very very slim, even after the first 3 kids., but then after my 4th in my late 20s it SWITCHED to the opposite and then even with dieting and exercise I have struggled up and down ever since. I also cared a LOT more about health and nutrition after having kids for their sakes too

2. Marriage- I eat as healthy if not healthier since getting married bc Todd goes to the gym for body building regularily and he eats low carb and high protein and healthy foods like I do. Even though I measure portion sizes and count carbs, calories etc I STILL struggle with losing weight, its very frustrating.But I will continue to eat healthy and consciously no matter what for health and longetivity even if the weight struggle sadly continues.


by on Apr. 14, 2011 at 12:43 PM

 Yup, I was a body builder...met DH and married...he wanted me soft...stopped working out...had 2 more kid's and gained 50 extra lbs with no pregnancy.  Now I am the stay puff marshmallow girl...LOL   But am currently taking back my own body and now trying to lose weight and eating much better.

Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)